With Thanksgiving week upon us, we decided to share with you something a little different. In this post, we’ll talk about starting and keeping a gratitude journal— a journal where you create a running list of things you are thankful for in your life.

It’s been proven that keeping a gratitude journal can positively impact your overall sense of well-being, ultimately improving your mental health by using the power of positive thinking! One straightforward way to get started with a journal of this kind is to grab a notebook and write down what you are grateful for each night. But there are many other ways to cultivate this habit, too. 

Today, we’ll go over the definition of a gratitude journal, why it’s essential, and some common questions about creating one. Plus, we’ll offer a few creative ideas you can replicate or modify in whichever way applies best to you.

What Is a Gratitude Journal?Person Writing on White Paper

A gratitude journal, or diary, is a daily record of all the things you are grateful for, often written in the present tense as though they are happening now. This simple habit can increase your overall sense of well-being and improve your mental health.

Even just writing down three things that went well each day has been proven to have positive results! The act of writing also helps strengthen neural connections in the brain responsible for emotional regulation and empathy. It does this by forcing us to connect our brains with our emotions at the same time. Keeping a gratitude journal reminds us what’s important, so we don’t waste time stuck in negative energy.

Common Questions About Creating a Gratitude Journal

How Long Should the Entries Be? 

Some experts recommend writing just three short sentences each morning about what you are grateful for. Others suggest writing for five or ten minutes each night to start, making a running list of what you’re thankful for as if it is happening in the present tense. Some people like to keep it short and sweet (i.e., I’m grateful for my dog, food on the table, and sunlight), while others prefer to write a whole page that is as detailed as possible. It doesn’t really matter how long it is, though. The important thing is that you make it a regular practice. 

What Do I Write About?

Anything and everything! Pick your favorite hobby or something that made you happy that day. You could even try writing your thoughts about something specific, like parenting or your job. Are you grateful for your coworkers, your new shoes, or your hassle-free morning commute? Write it down. It doesn’t need to be something profound like, “I’m so grateful I won the lottery”! Instead, something simple like “Im glad my coffee mug keeps things hot” can suffice. As long as it is something meaningful to you, write it down. After all, unless you choose to share it with others, your gratitude journal is for your eyes only. 

What Type of Journal Should I Use?

There isn’t a specific type of journal you must use. Even a beat-up notebook or some scrap paper will work. Some people like to buy blank books specifically designed as gratitude journals, but that’s optional. 

What if I Am Not a Good Writer?

The good news is it doesn’t matter! There will be no quizzes, tests, editing, or critiquing. Remember, this is an exercise for you only. If your grammar and spelling skills arent up to par, so what? It’s not a competition, so don’t get bogged down with perfectionist tendencies.

How Often Should I Make an Entry in My Journal?

Being consistent in making journal entries appears to be more critical than the frequency. For example, one study found that after ten weeks of keeping a gratitude journal with only one entry a week, participants reported feeling better about their lives and more optimistic than those who did not utilize their journals.

While some people diligently write in their journals at a specified time each day, you should do what fits your schedule best. You can make it a daily practice or plan on journaling once or twice a week. It’s all up to you!

What if I Get Behind? 

Don’t let your journal become a source of stress for you. After all, this exercise is designed to increase well-being, not make you more frazzled. If you feel like you’re getting behind, dont try to catch up on all the missed days. Simply pick up where you left off. 

Do I Need to Buy a Special Journal?

Keeping a gratitude journal itself doesn’t cost any money, although there are plenty of options available if you want to treat yourself to something special. Amazon has a fantastic selection of gratitude journals to suit any style or taste. Some are plain and simple, while others have elaborately decorated covers and even specific writing prompts to help you along.

If you really want to treat yourself to one of these special journals but can’t afford it, one solution is paid online surveys. For example, at Branded Surveys, participants can share their opinions on different products and services and be compensated via several payout methods. 

Those methods include Paypal, direct deposit, and more. Members can even take surveys to earn free Amazon gift cards. So if you feel too broke to purchase a unique journal, never fear. You could take some surveys and earn one without putting a single dent in the family budget. Now there’s something to be grateful for!

Creative Ideas for Gratitude JournalingTwo People Forming Heart Hand Shape

We’ll share a few creative ideas to get you started with your gratitude journal in this final section. Adopt one (or several) of them to come up with something that works for you. We’re willing to bet you even have some fabulous ideas of your own!

Index Cards Box

If you have a box full of index cards, you can use a new card each day. You can even carry that day’s card in your purse or wallet and make an entry when the mood strikes. Index cards are perfect if you plan on writing short entries or want to draw pictures too.

Repurpose Something

If you or your kids have old notebooks lying around, rip out the used pages and create a new cover yourself. You can use photos, stickers, or even glue an old piece of wallpaper on the front. There is no limit to what you can make once your creativity is unleashed.

Use an App

If you want to streamline the process even further, consider downloading an app designed especially for gratitude journaling. There are plenty of free and paid apps available on the App Store and Google Play. Just do an internet search with the keywords “Gratitude Journal” + app once you’re ready to get started!.

Closing Thoughts

Measuring happiness is not an exact science, but there are even studies that show the benefits of gratitude journals in prison populations. Sometimes life can feel extra hard. Gratitude journaling is a cheap idea you can do on a budget that can help you take back control of your life and focus on what truly matters most.